Purchasing Process: 3 tips to organize your flow in a Startup*

Purchasing process on startups

When we talk about startups, we always imagine a relaxed environment; a non-existent process; a really fast-growing rate of revenue for the company. We imagine that this growth rate creates unorganized workflows, which basically makes everyone do whatever they want. In this case, one of the departments that most suffer from this is the Purchasing; or the person responsible for the purchasing processes

If you have this experience, you know what I am talking about. If not, just imagine:

  1. you are trying to deal with many people some of them recently onboarded
  2. many employees and suppliers asking for a diversity of items, invoices, equipment, etc.
  3. messages come from every possible channel that you can use for communication

This may be truly stressful. But there are actually some tips that can be applied. From my experience, they helped a lot when structuring the Purchasing Process (on Pipefy).

1. Create purchasing policies

There is nothing more important than establishing rules for the purchasing process. You need to identify who is going to approve the purchases; also levels of approvals based on the contract cost and/or importance.

Will it be centralized on the Finance – or Purchasing management – or the leaders of each department should be enough?

It is also necessary to define who is responsible for contracts. They are extremely important for the traceability of active suppliers.

2. Define responsibilities and share activities with Facilities and IT 

In startups, you must not be blinded by your process. Don’t close your eyes for any request out of your little box of activities. There are constantly new problems that need solving and a very steep learning curve.

This is applicable also for your team. The person responsible for Facilities could also help you with Facilities suppliers; IT Team can be very helpful when dealing with software and hardware needed. 

You should bring them for negotiations and count with them on technical negotiations. But, please, do not consider them and do not let them be fully responsible for the suppliers and negotiations. This is why you need to have someone responsible for that.

3. Build a Purchasing Process that works for you

There is no doubt that you must define the step by step from an open request until receiving the product or service; and making your colleague happy about the development of his or her demand. 

When does it make sense to approve the purchase for your company? The requester should bring the request already approved or you will approve on your own process? Is there any budget that should be validated during the process?

Anyway, there are many process variations for the Purchasing Process, but summarizing there’s usually some steps you should follow:

  1. purchase request
  2. negotiation and quotation
  3. approval
  4. purchasing order
  5. payment
  6. delivery

If there are so many variations, how about having a tool flexible enough to be able to fit perfectly on your process? 

Real Case

How we run the Purchasing Process in Pipefy

In my case, I have more than 200 suppliers, innumerable products and services registered, and almost 300 employees who can ask for anything for the Purchasing team. If I didn’t have any process management tool, which would be my central place to receive demands, it would be impossible to control and manage all the requests. 

Pipefy has been helping me a lot to:

  • centralize all demands in a single place
  • manage my workflow time
  • increase agility in the process

In this scenario, I’ve been learning a lot about processes. I can test what works better and change it anywhere and at any time that I want. 

I hope that this gave you an insight into the general view of the Purchasing Process and what is the tool that may be very useful for controlling it.

*Artur de Paula is from the Finance Team and is the HoneyBadger responsible for the Procurement Process at Pipefy.